I wrote my first song when I was 14 years old. Over the years, I've composed hundreds of songs. It was that interest—music—that led me to take a year off from pursuing a doctorate and led me down the circuitous path that has been the rest of my life.

I don't write songs nowadays, more focused on screenplays and writing about writing. But I can't help but think at least some of who I am as a writer derives from all that time studying and composing songs.

Which is why I say that one of my favorite ‘screenwriting’ books is Songwriters on Songwriting, a collection of interviews by Paul Zollo with some of the great songwriters of our time, from Mose Allison to Frank Zappa. For what are songs but stories?

Each week I will post insight from a songwriter about their craft in the hope their words may inspire you too.

How often do you write songs?

Well, whenever the various facts come to your mind that you think are interesting, it can do somebody some good.

Where do you get those facts?

From life. Life itself is a fact.

Willie Dixon

This is one of my favorite all-time quotes about anything.

When is a good time to write? When you have some interesting facts rumbling around in your mind.

Where to get those facts?

From life.

That just about sums it up, doesn't it?

We scavenge around for ideas, concepts, hooks. Most of them are crap. Some of them may have a bit of an appeal. But it’s the ones we find interesting that are worth pursuing.

But where do good ideas come from? From your life. Who you are, what you do, how you interface with the world, how dialed in you are to what’s going on.

Because… you know… life itself is a fact.

You get that right, you can get your creative mojo working.

I Got My Mojo Working

Willie Dixon